On The Move

Avtec Consoles Integral to Hamblen County Emergency Communications Upgrade

Mar 7, 2013

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GILBERT, SC - March 7, 2013 - Avtec’s Scout™ dispatching console played a pivotal role in helping Hamblen County, Tenn., bridge the gap as it integrated its diverse communications equipment to modern digital and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications. Hamblen County officials discussed their success with more than 250 public safety delegates from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico during a January 2013 webinar, “The Consolidated PSAP: Overcoming Technical Challenges.” The event was hosted by Public Safety Communications magazine.

Hamblen County officials discussed the challenges they faced during the last 20 years, from the advent of 911 emergency services in the 1990s through the development of the consolidated call center that exists today. Situated in eastern Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Hamblen County Emergency Communications Department serves nearly 63,000 people in the region. That number rises to 80,000 including people who come for work and recreation around Morristown, the county seat.

“Technical challenges to consolidation are greater than ever. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) must continue to provide uninterrupted service during the entire process,” said Keri Losavio, editor of APCO’s Public Safety Communications magazine. For Hamblen County, Avtec has helped to address those technical challenges.

The Hamblen County 911 call center services a number of entities – the Morristown Police, Morristown Fire, Morristown Emergency Rescue Squad, Morristown Hamblen Emergency Medical Service, the Humane Society, Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, all four of the county’s volunteer fire departments, and the Department of Emergency Management – and coordinates with the Walter State Community College Campus Police. Consolidation requires trust between departments, said Eric Carpenter, director of the Hamblen County Tennessee Emergency Communications District. “The 911 call center does not operate in a vacuum. We are tied to and dependent upon every one of the other participating agencies that we deal with.”

Like other organizations, Hamblen County emergency has navigated through a number of equipment upgrades, from analog to digital communications and through integration of separate communications systems among departments. To those challenges, add some significant geographic factors because Hamblen is “wedged into a little bowl” in the Tennessee Valley, said Carpenter. “Lots of hills and valleys have been a challenge for communications, both voice and data.”

The county evaluated several console providers before choosing Avtec, said Steve Peoples, senior technician and electronic shop supervisor for the city of Morristown, Tenn.  “Avtec worked best with what we had: some limited network facilities and some limited wireless facilities, and we had to make that work. Avtec was the one that performed best with our existing network. It also interfaces easily with the communications equipment we’re currently using.”

Avtec’s strengths – the capability to interoperate with different modes of communications technologies, reliability, and ease of use – have been integral to Hamblen County’s success. “I like the look of the Avtec consoles, and the icons and pads that you can build. They are very easy to use. We customized our Scout console screens to look like our former Orbacom screens, so the learning curve for our dispatchers was minimal. We’ve been very pleased with the service that we have received and continue to receive from Avtec,” said Peoples.

Avtec has a 30-year history of reliability to ensure emergency services maintain critical communications. “The Avtec VPGate system has redundancy, and we can use a Geo-Diverse backup on it, which we have down at our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that protects us if this 911 center took a hit of any kind that put us out of commission,” said Peoples. In addition, the Avtec console can accommodate Hamblen County’s expansion needs. “If we want to build anything in the future, it’s easy for us to create any kind of screens we need on-site,” said Peoples.

“The Scout system is extremely versatile and easy to work with. I’m very, very happy with the choice that we made with the Avtec system. It has served us well now for eight months, and we’re sure we made the right choice,” said Peoples.

 

About Avtec, Inc.

Avtec, Inc. provides pure Internet Protocol (IP) dispatch console solutions for the transportation, public safety, utility, business, and government markets. For more than 30 years, customers have chosen Avtec’s award-winning technology for their mission-critical dispatch centers. There are thousands of Scout ™ Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) consoles installed worldwide. Visit www.avtecinc.com to learn more.